Ketchikan is the the oldest city in Alaska, and it's the wettest as well, with an average rainfall of a whopping 165 inches. With less than 8,000 year-round residents in the city, Ketchikan is still the state's fourth largest city. It's also completely inaccessible by car from the rest of Alaska, except by seaplane or boat. Rush hour takes on a whole different dimension here. Commuting by seaplane or boat sounds like fun, but I'm pretty sure that it's a whole lot more fun during the summer than it is during the dead of winter.
Ketchikan's population swells during the summer months as cruise ships ply the inside passgae and vacationing anglers swarm to Ketchikan for the salmon fishing. A popular stop for cruise ships, we counted half a dozen ships in port the day we were there. The ships disgorged more passengers than there are residents in Ketchikan. Lucky for cruising knitters, there's a yarn shop just a few blocks from the docks.
Mission Street Arts & Fibers is just a short walk from the port, in the main shopping area of "downtown" Ketchikan. The shop carries a variety of local arts, but for knitters and crocheters, the real attraction is the section of the store devoted to fiber. Although the shop carries some standard brands, such as Noro, as well as some cool imports, like Danish brand Kauni, the real draw for me was the Raven Frog Fiber Arts hand-dyed yarns in about a dozen different textures. The colorways are all inspired by Alaskan themes and they are just gorgeous. Raven Frog is hand-dyed in Sitka, Alaska and is making its way into the lower 48, but for now, Alaska is the best place to find it. I couldn't resist and ended up picking up the Alder colorway in 4 different textures -- worsted wool, silk chenille, bumpy-lumpy-bubbly wool, and a thick-an-thin roving type. Mission Street also carries Alaskan hand-dyes from Rabbit Ridge. When I visited, the shop had a beautiful selection of Rabbit Ridge in sock weight.
The shop was friendly and warm and if your traveling companions roll there eyes at the thought of hitting a yarn store with you, there's plenty of local art in the shop to keep them occupied while you get down to some serious yarn shopping.
Mission Street has another location in Ketchikan that recently opened, called The Point. According to the nice lady at Mission Street, it's 2800 square feet of fiber heaven. It's a bit further from the docks and we didn't have time to get there before our zodiac ride through the backwaters of the Tongass Rainforest archipelago, but if you're spending more of your "in port" time wandering the town, get yourself over there and let me know what you think?
Mission Street Arts and Fibers
500 Mission Street
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901
Phone: (907) 225-2854
25 Jefferson Way, Suite 102B
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901